One down, five to go

Published 11:01 pm Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pike County's Jerrell Lawson (2) looks to pass past Samson's Matt Stacy during a game in the Goshen Christmas Tournament in Goshen, Ala., Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

Pike County’s Jerrell Lawson (2) looks to pass past Samson’s Matt Stacy during a game in the Goshen Christmas Tournament in Goshen, Ala., Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

Pike County takes first step to area title with win over Montgomery Catholic

The Pike County Bulldogs are fresh off a thrilling 35-34 win over area rival Montgomery Catholic. Pike County head coach Doug Holland and the rest of the Bulldogs hope to find more of the same success Friday night when Pike County travels to Barbour County to take on the Jaguars.

Holland said the win over Montgomery Catholic was the perfect way to start the area season. “The win over Catholic means a whole lot to us,” Holland said. “To win a close game on the road like that says a lot about the boys. It was a big win because the team came together.”

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The Bulldogs’ second-half intensity was key in their win. “We came out much more intense in the second half,” Holland said. “I told the team to come together at halftime. We played much better as a team after the break. We had an even scoring distribution, and our focus was better.”

The Bulldogs also overcame something they had been struggling with all year. “For the first time all season, we shot better than 50 percent from the free throw line,” Holland said. “We finished 6-8 in a one-point ball game. We played well overall, and we were much more disciplined. It let us have a better control of the game.”

Pike County will need to be in control in order to knock off Barbour County. The Jaguars have advanced to the Final Four in five of the past seven years. In 13 years of being a school, Barbour County has won two state championships.

Holland said his players are focused on themselves rather than their opponent. “What we always preach to the kids is ‘Do what we do.’” Holland said. ”We don’t focus on the team we are playing. We just want to run our offense and trap on defense. If we do both of those things well, we will always have a chance to win, no matter who we play.”

Holland did admit that his team may have some problems matching up against the Jaguar’s size. “As far as size goes, we don’t match up with them,” Holland said. “But, we think there are some things we can do with our speed that will make them uncomfortable. We aren’t going to change what we do. We are going to be very patient on offense and trap hard on defense.”

The Bulldogs travel to Clayton on Friday to play the Jaguars. Varsity boys are scheduled to tip at 7 p.m.